British citizens who criticize Islam on social media could face up to six years in prison under new government proposals.
The Sentencing Council for England and Wales has proposed draconian changes to public order offences and anyone perceived as targeting a “protected” group online will face prison time.
Breitbart reported that if UK citizens criticize “race; sex; disability; age; sexual orientation; religion or belief; pregnancy and maternity; and gender reassignment” you could be sent to prison for six years.
If you have a large online audience you will get an even longer sentence with those “in a position of trust, authority or influence” being warned that if they abuse their position to stir up hatred,” they will face jail.
Those in positions of influence include journalists, political leaders or figureheads and anyone whose offences are “persistent.”
If an “offender was a member of, or was associated with, a group promoting hostility based on race or religion,” their sentence will also be harsher.
Politicate report: The Sentencing Council believes that the use of social media, YouTube, and other “websites” to stir hatred is a growing problem – despite the number of prosecutions remain relatively low.
“Volumes of these offences are extremely low and there have been no offenders sentenced for some offences,” the Sentencing Council said.
“However, given the recent social climate and an enhanced focus on this type of offending, the council considers it would be useful for sentencers to be equipped with guidance on sentencing these offences,” they continue.
Adding: “Among the cases analysed there were a number of ‘hate speech’ type offences, where inflammatory speeches were given by influential figures with the intention of stirring up racial hatred.
“Other cases involved publication on YouTube of content inciting serious violence towards particular racial or religious groups, websites being published including abusive and insulting content, with some activity continuing over a long period of time and intended to reach global audiences.”